HMS Barnham

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Pips
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HMS Barnham

Post by Pips » 10 Dec 2020 05:46

On November 25, 1941, HMS Barnham was torpedoed by U-331. Within four (4) minutes she rolled over, blew up and sank with very heavy loss of life.

Supposedly it was the after magazine that exploded as Barnham rolled onto her beam ends. Does anyone know why the magazine exploded?
When viewing the film of her sinking, other than smoke from her funnel, there's no (obvious) evidence of fires raging inside her or on deck.

A puzzle.

EwenS
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Re: HMS Barnham

Post by EwenS » 10 Dec 2020 11:36

I very much doubt that we will ever know any more than we do now due to the lack of survivors from that part of the ship.

The Officer of the Watch on Valiant immediately ahead of Barham, reported that observers on that ship concluded that the centre of the explosion was the after 6” magazine (being used as the AA magazine). It was believed not far enough aft for the main magazine. See Burt’s “ British Battleships 1919-1945”.

The enquiry into her loss concluded that the torpedo hits triggered a fire in the AA magazine outboard of the main X/Y magazines which then spread to the latter and triggering them. See Jones’ “Battleship Barham”.

Given the speed with which she went down and that damage from the initial torpedo hits was contained within the ships vitals, there would have been no time for fires to penetrate the steel decks of the ship to become visible on the upper deck.

If there was a fire in the AA magazine it is entirely possible that an explosion triggered there there vented horizontally through the surrounding bulkheads so triggering a virtually simultaneous explosion of the main magazines, instead of upwards through the armour to the upper deck as might be imagined. That was something I believe happened in other ships.

Sid Guttridge
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Re: HMS Barnham

Post by Sid Guttridge » 11 Dec 2020 01:37

Hi Pips,

My mother, although not Maltese, was born and brought up on Malta. On 12 November 1941 she turned 18 and was taken on as an apprentice cipher clerk at naval headquarters in Valetta.

The cipher operator taking the signals about Barham's sinking was a Mrs. Black. She was the wife of a naval officer who had retired to Malta and their son was aboard Barham. My mother (who died only two years ago) said that Mrs. Black took the first signal that Barham had been sunk with great loss of life, deciphered it and handed the clear text to her without comment.

My mother was meant to take the signal to the Admiral without reading it, for security reasons. However, she took a peak in the corridor and realised that Mrs. Black's son was aboard, so she told the Admiral. He immediately went to Mrs. Black and asked if she wanted to go home. According to my mother she replied "No, I will finish my shift"!

That is true stiff upper lip. Today Mrs, Black would have been instantaneously surrounded by half a dozen well meaning counsellors.

Somewhere on the internet there is a full casualty list for the Barham. About ten years ago I checked it with a the father of a friend who had also lost a school mate aboard Barham. Both their names were there.

This doesn't answer your question, or even address it, but it might get you a little closer to the spirit of the times.

Cheers,

Sid.

EwenS
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Re: HMS Barnham

Post by EwenS » 11 Dec 2020 09:43

Sadly, in those days and even without the war, death was a lot more common. It was accepted and people got on with their lives, perhaps more so during the war.

A quick Google found the HMS Barham Association website. There is a list of those lost including a Peter Black.
http://www.hmsbarham.com/index.php

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Pips
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Re: HMS Barnham

Post by Pips » 13 Dec 2020 09:37

Thanks for the replies guys. :)

Darius333
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Re: HMS Barnham

Post by Darius333 » 01 Jan 2021 19:40

Hello admins,

can you change the title of this topic into HMS Barham?

Thank you

Darius

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